Some foods seem to go straight to your waist. Of course, it seems like they are also the most tempting treats. If you are trying to slim down, you may wonder about carbohydrates and the way they seem to make themselves at home right around your middle. It turns out that there are different forms of carbohydrates. While some carbohydrates provide wholesome nutrition, others offer empty calories that seem to turn right into fat.
8. Simple Carbohydrates
When you eat carbohydrates, your body breaks them down into sugars and absorbs those sugars into your bloodstream. Simple carbohydrates are foods high in refined sugars, like cookies, candy, and cakes. These foods dump a lot of sugar into your bloodstream, without the benefit of wholesome vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Furthermore, a quick spike and then drop in blood sugars can leave you feeling irritable and hungry. In addition to refined products, milk, fruits, and vegetables also contain simple carbohydrates. However, these foods also contain healthful components like calcium, vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber.
7. Complex Carbohydrates
Complex carbohydrates are also known as starches. These foods are also broken down into sugar before being absorbed by your body. However, complex carbs are less quickly absorbed than simple carbs and take longer for your body to digest. This means they cause less drastic swings in your blood sugar levels. Complex carbs include foods like peas, beans, whole grains, rice, pasta, and cruciferous vegetables. They supply your body with the fiber, vitamins, and minerals needed to provide the energy it needs.
6. Sugar Levels and Insulin
Your bloodstream absorbs the sugars your body manufactures from carbohydrates. Then, it can carry those sugars where they are needed so you can use them as energy. Excess amounts of sugar, however, signal your body to release insulin. Insulin, in turn, causes your body to store excess sugar as fat. Both simple and complex carbohydrates increase your blood sugar levels and can lead to weight gain. However, complex carbs have the benefit of not only nutrients but also fiber. Your body takes longer to digest fiber, which helps keep you feeling full longer. Feeling full can help prevent moodiness and overeating.
5. Glycemic Index
In addition to categorizing foods as simple or complex carbohydrates, scientists can also classify them based on something called a glycemic index. The glycemic index ranks foods based on how quickly they raise a person’s blood sugar levels after a meal. According to Harvard Health, low-glycemic foods have a rating of 55 or less out of 100. Examples are whole grain oats, apples, and kidney beans. Medium-glycemic foods have a ranking of 56 to 69. These include foods like boiled brown rice, pineapple, and boiled sweet potatoes. High-glycemic foods include white wheat bread, cornflakes, and instant mashed potatoes.
4. Eating to Prevent Belly Fat
You can provide your body with the nutrients it needs for a healthy brain, strong muscles, and healthy heart while preventing fat from gathering around your middle. Choose wholesome foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals to keep your cells and tissues strong. When choosing carbohydrates, select the complex carbohydrates that will provide both nutrition and the fiber that will keep you from quickly growing hungry. Provide your body with lean proteins, leafy greens, fresh fruits, whole grains, and fiber-rich cruciferous veggies like broccoli and Brussels sprouts.Related: 10 Reasons Exercise May Not Be Getting Rid of Your Belly Fat
3. Lifestyle Changes to Prevent Belly Fat
Making healthy food choices and limiting your intake of refined sugars can prevent unwanted weight gain. Furthermore, you can make lifestyle changes to keep fat from taking up residence around your midsection. Make time for both aerobic exercises to get your heart pumping, and core-strengthening exercises to strengthen your muscles. Inviting a friend to work out or head out on a walk with you will provide your body with physical activity and help you to de-stress. Drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated and aim to get around eight hours of sleep each night.
2. Belly Fat and Heart Disease
Fat just below the skin that you can pinch with your fingers is called subcutaneous fat. Meanwhile, the fat that is located deeper within your abdomen is known as visceral fat. While an excessive layer of fat is never good for your health, several studies have linked visceral fat to an increased risk of heart disease. The American Heart Association warns that even women with an average body mass index (BMI) who carry excess visceral fat around their waist are at a higher risk of heart disease and stroke.
1. Belly Fat and Type 2 Diabetes
Excess belly fat can also increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Yonsei Medical Journal reported on a study of 1,603 Korean adults. This study found that visceral fat was a more significant predictor of diabetes than other forms of body fat. The American Diabetes Association reports that changes in liver enzymes that predict type 2 diabetes may be linked to visceral fat and insulin resistance.Related: 7 Most Common Symptoms of Diabetes